The Big Ten is back.
A little more than a month after the conference cancelled fall sports – including football – its Council of Presidents and Chancellors has flipped the script, and adopted what it calls “stringent medical protocols,” allowing member schools to open the season the weekend of October 23-24.
The Big Ten announced the move in a press release just before 9:30 Wednesday morning.
The decision paves the way for what many Rutgers fans hope will be the resurgence of the Scarlet Knight program in the return of Greg Schiano as head coach.
The move is made possible by “daily antigen testing, enhanced cardiac screening and an enhanced data-driven approach when making decisions about practice/competition.”
The vote by the Council was unanimous, according to the league’s press release.
Coaches, student-athletes – and anyone else on the field for practices and games – will have to undergo daily antigen testing, with results required to be complete and recorded before any practice or game. Recent developments in the field of testing allowing for such a quick turnaround were not available at the time the Big Ten first made its decision to cancel football.
“Student-athletes who test positive for the coronavirus through point of contact (POC) daily testing would require a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to confirm the result of the POC test,” according to the release.
Daily testing will begin by September 30th, and practice could be halted or games cancelled if a certain percentage of the team or population eclipse certain benchmarks.
A schedule was not announced by the Big Ten, but is expected to be forthcoming, with a little more than five weeks before the start of the season. Only a week before the league first cancelled the fall football season, the Big Ten released a scaled back season schedule, with no out-of-conference games.
The starting weekend chosen by the Big Ten would seem to put it in a position with other leagues to participate in potential bowls and the College Football Playoff.
Power Five conferences such as the ACC and Big 12 opened play this past weekend, while the SEC is scheduled to open the weekend of Saturday, September 26th.
The Pac 12 – which had initially opted to sit out along with the Big Ten – has not yet made a decision on returning to the field this fall.